NXT to hold first women's WarGames match with Shayna Baszler, Rhea Ripley as captains
Baszler and Ripley will lead their teams into one of the most epic matches in professional wrestling
NXT TakeOver: WarGames has become one of the most anticipated events of the year on the wrestling calendar. Fans now have even more reason to be excited for this year's event because it will feature the first-ever women's WarGames match. CBS Sports has learned that this first-of-its-kind match will feature teams captained by two of the most fearsome women in all of professional wrestling: NXT women's champion Shayna Baszler and former NXT UK women's champion Rhea Ripley.
While the teams are not official for the event -- set for Saturday, Nov. 23 in Chicago -- it's only fair to assume the actions on Wednesday night's episode of NXT on USA Network will come into play. Ripley brawled side-by-side with Candice LeRae, Tegan Nox and Dakota Kai against Baszler and her fellow Horsewomen (Marina Shafir and Jessamyn Duke) as well as Bianca Belair and Io Shirai. That would leave a 5-on-4 match, but a promo was aired earlier in the show for Mia Yim, who could even out the sides.
Whatever the final configurations of the teams, the captains -- neither of whom are new to history-making events -- told CBS Sports they are ready for the opportunity to run teams into the dangerous match.
"It's crazy to think all the big moments in history I've been a part of," Baszler said. "I say this every single time. The first-ever Mae Young Classic and the first-ever all women's pay-per-view. Every time a historical moment happens, I think, 'What next?' This is what's next. I ask that every time.
"But the thing I have to look at for the future is retaining and defending the NXT women's championship, whatever that entails. Just the way NXT has been run and the importance placed on the women's division, as long as I concentrate on the NXT women's championship, that title has history behind it and historical importance. As long as I do my job in defending that, history will come my way. I don't need to seek it out."
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Ripley is equally eager to prove her place on the roster as not only a former NXT UK champion but a force driving the future of the sport. Like Baszler, she has been in history-making positions in the past.
"I have a whole lot of mixed feelings, to be honest," Ripley said. "I just can't wait to get in there. To be able to make history time and time again, that's all that I've ever wanted to do since being a little girl. I always knew that I was destined for something big in this world. I've already made history becoming the first-ever NXT UK women's champion, and I've been in the first ever Mae Young Classic.
"Now, to be able to break history again and be in the first ever women's WarGames? It's insane. And not only just be in it, but to be the captain of my own team is just incredible. I have so many mixed feelings about it and I can't wait to step in there and give Shayna's team what they have coming, you know?"
As for who Ripley picks to stand by her side, she claims she wants someone who brings a level of toughness to the match. She's driving toward a "sweet" result of finally getting one over on the champ, something she's not been able to do.
"Grit and determination," Ripley said. "If someone proves to me that they'll get knocked down but will get back up and keep going, that's what I want on my team. I want people that can take a hit and keep going. I want people that can dish out some brutality with me. That's pretty much what I'm looking for. I just want people that I know won't give up until they win because I want to win this.
"The sweetest possible way for the match to end, in my mind, is by going and defeating Shayna Baszler, you know? That's the one thing I've not yet done. We had a match not too long ago and she decided to bring her little sidekicks into it and they brought a chair in. Too bad they couldn't hit me with it because she isn't fast enough, so I hit her with it. I got disqualified. I lost my anger a little bit. But any way of defeating Shayna is what I want to do."
While Ripley sees the match as her opportunity to meet Baszler on terms where her anger need not stay in check, the champ sees the situation as unearned opportunity. Ripley has come up short in big matches before, Baszler pointed out, and she expects it to happen again.
"Here's my complaint about all of this," Baszler said. "I've been here defending this title and defeating people in high profile title matches my entire NXT career. Rhea came in and threw a 2-year old tantrum and blew her chance when they gave her a chance in a No. 1 contender match and then continued to throw a tantrum. She's being awarded this to appease her tantrum throwing. She hasn't done anything to deserve this and I'm going to show her that."
Before Baszler ever set foot into an NXT ring, she was an accomplished mixed martial artist. She fought for UFC, Invicta FC, Strikeforce and EliteXC before becoming a pro wrestling star on the independent circuit and working her way to the NXT championship. Having made her living in a cage in the past, it would seem competing in WarGames would be a return home for "The Queen of Spades."
"Look at it this way," Baszler said. "Rhea and whoever else she wants to choose to be locked in a cage, they're getting locked in a cage, but as soon as that door shuts is the moment I'm set free. It doesn't matter who she picks, I've got experience on my side.
"It doesn't matter if they've been doing pro wrestling longer than me. I've been locked in a cage to do damage to a person longer than anybody else on that roster. Whoever she picks, they're digging their own grave and doing the work for me."
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